Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – June 2007

Volume 7 Number 6


1. Welcome

2. Promoting Responsibility

3. Increasing Effectiveness

4. Improving Relationships

5. Promoting Learning

6. Discipline without Stress

7. Testimonials and Research 



“A common confusion of teachers and school leaders alike
is that classroom management and motivation are basically
one and the same. The paradox is that successful behavior
management does not create motivation to learn.

“The data suggest that more than 50% of teachers leave the
profession because of poor student behavior. What we have
failed to provide in the professional training of
teachers is a realistic understanding that control and
compliance will not of themselves create a climate of
academic attainment.”
—from Barbara Bartholomew, “Why We Can’t Always Get
What We Want – Motivation may be more important for
student success than even the teacher’s knowledge of
the content being taught” – Phi Delta Kappan, April
2007, pp. 593-598.

Marv Marshall’s comment:

We prepare teachers to teach reading, writing, arithmetic
and other useful skills and worthwhile information leading
to knowledge–and, hopefully, wisdom. Unfortunately,
teachers are not taught that which is most essential when
first entering the classroom: How to motivate for
responsible behavior AND motivate students to want to put
forth effort in their learning.

As I often demonstrate in a simple exercise in my seminars


Practioners of the Raise Responsibility System (Roman
Numeral III at
understand that the ONLY part of the system STUDENTS need to
understand are the four levels of personal and social
development. Lower levels A and B are unacceptable, whereas
the higher levels C and D are both acceptable. Also, THE
MOTIVATION. The motivation for level C is “EXternal,”
whereas the motivation for level D is “INternal.”

Two examples I use in my seminars are (1) asking a teenager
at home to make one’s bed before going to school and (2)
asking a student in a classroom to pick up one’s trash.

In the home example, if the teenager knew the
responsibility/standard/expectation of the home and would
have made the bed without being asked, the BEHAVIOR would be
the same as when being asked. In each situation, the bed
would have been made before going to school.

Similarly in the school example, if the student would have
taken the initiative to pick up the trash–without first
being asked–the trash would have been picked up. The
BEHAVIOR would have been the same.

The DIFFERENCE between these two acceptable levels IS IN THE
may begin to see “level C” and “level D” referred to BY
ADULTS as “C/D”–although it is still preferable to have the
student differentiate between the two. Also, since neither
“level A” nor “level B” is an acceptable behavioral level,
you may see them referred to as “A/B.”


The following is from a post at

Read how an entire school moved from external rewards to
having students put forth effort without them.


Public Address Announcement: Friday, April 27, 2007

Monday afternoon is our Alex Aitken Skipathon for the Heart
and Stroke Foundation. Please think about these things so
you are ready for that event:
1. What could you wear on Monday that would allow you to be
most comfortable when you are skipping? BIG PAUSE
2. What should you wear on your feet? BIG PAUSE
2. What would be the best drink to bring from home for those
times when you are resting? BIG PAUSE
See you all at the skipathon on Monday, everyone!

I want to mention something that we’re pleased about on our
staff. You perhaps noticed an emphasis on our school
skipathon in our announcement questions above. That’s
because we wanted to really promote the skipathon this year.

For a number of years now at our school we’ve been
diligently moving toward “doing things for the right
reason.” One of the last things in our school (as a whole)
that had anything to do with rewarding was the prizes that
are associated with fundraising for the Heart and Stroke
Foundation. The foundation offers prizes for both the school
(like TVs, etc.) and for individuals (little toys and bigger
toys, etc.) for various levels of fundraising.

For five years now we have declined the school rewards that
would normally be sent to a school that fundraises thousands
of dollars in favour of having all the money we raise go to
the cause itself. This year for the first time we declined
the individual prizes as well. We didn’t know what would
happen. Would parents and kids still want to fundraise
WITHOUT having some personal gain for themselves (in terms
of prizes)?

For several years we “weaned” ourselves off of these prizes.
At one time, the prizes were prominently displayed in the
hallway display case and were shown off at assemblies. After
a year of that, we decided not to mention them. We no longer
displayed them in any way or mentioned them at the time of
sending out the pledge forms, but still they were a strong
focus for the kids who, like all kids, love prizes and junky
toys. In previous years each child in a family also had
their own pledge sheet and so was, in effect, in competition
with siblings to get to the neighbours first for a pledge.

To be proactive, Darlene (who organizes the skipping club in
our school), wrote a note home to parents PRIOR to sending
home the pledge sheets. Along with details about the
skipathon itself, she included this paragraph to “warn” the
parents that there would be no prizes this year. I think she
did a great job of wording this. I know she spent quite a
bit of time trying to figure out the best way to broach the


An excerpt:

This year we are sending out one pledge envelope per family.
We are asking that siblings fundraise together to help raise
funds for this good cause. We do not encourage students to
go door to door without the supervision of an adult. We are
also sending the pledge envelopes out before the Easter
weekend in hopes that students will be able to ask for
support from visitors over the holiday.

Alex Aitken Elementary has always declined the school prizes
offered by the Heart and Stroke Foundation. We have asked
that the money that would be used to buy these prizes be put
towards research, along with the money raised by our school
community. This year, our school has decided to go one step
further and not claim the individual prizes either. This
means that any money that the Heart and Stroke Foundation
would have spent on these prizes will be added to the total
amount donated by our school. This is in keeping with our
school philosophy. We believe that the true reward of doing
a charitable act is the good feeling that it brings to


Well, what happened? Normally we raise about $6,000 dollars
and this year we raised $4,500. We feel that for the first
year of going in this new direction, we did exceedingly
well. And guess what? I don’t think there was a single
question from a child about why there were no prizes this
year. Honest! We were talking in the staff room and no one
seemed to hear any kids saying anything in complaint–and
these prizes were a big deal to them in previous years.

How nice it is to be totally rewards-free at last! If you’re
interested, I once wrote about how we moved in this
direction with regard to phone book recycling.

The link to that post is:

And by the way, this year we even BEAT our old record of
recycling phone books from the days when we did focus on
getting money for bringing phone books in. WHO SAYS YOU
that if you just keep explaining the real reason for doing
something, kids DO want to do the right thing.

Kerry in British Columbia


What do you do when you have a negative experience?

Imagine the brain as a large ship. If a leak occurs in the
floating vessel, it immediately compartmentalizes the area
of the leak to prevent the leak from sinking the entire
ship. This is necessary because it may take some time
before the ship returns to port to repair the damages.

This concept of compartmentalization can help when we
encounter a negative situation, stimulation, or urge. When
we have a negative experience–be it with a significant
other, a child, a parent, a member of the family, or a
fellow worker–COMPARTMENTALIZE IT. Set it aside. Isolate
it. Deal with it later when you are in port and in a better
place for reaction and repair.

By compartmentalizing it and dealing with it later, you are
more likely to deal with it more successfully.


It’s so easy to embrace
the negative.

In my seminars I pose the following situation: Suppose your
supervisor asks you to stop by the office before leaving
for the day.

I then ask people to respond by a raise of hands as to how
many immediately engage in negative self-talk, e.g., “What
did I do wrong?” The raised hands are unanimous.

But the negative assumption doesn’t have to be created.
Consciously or not, this negative self-talk is our own
imposition. Compartmentalize it. Your supervisor may have a
positive communication for you. Since you don’t know what
the conversation will be about, a wrong assumption may
prompt undue stress.

As an elementary school principal, a middle school assistant
principal, and a high school assistant principal and
principal, I continually engaged in a self-argument: Should
I inform the teacher ahead of time when I am going to make
an evaluation visit, or should I just stop in unannounced
and save the teacher the usual negative anxiety from the
evaluation visit?

I finally decided to use the universal and enduring
principal of good relationships: I gave teachers the choice
of which they preferred–letting them know when I would be
evaluating their lesson or my visiting without letting them
know ahead of time.


For many students in the United States, this month brings
with it the end of the school year–and a time to reflect.

Little children come to school in kindergarten filled with
curiosity. They are endlessly asking “Why?” questions in an
attempt to find meaning and make connections. Somewhere
around grade four they stop asking, “Why?” and begin to ask,
“Will we have this on the test?”

These two questions indicate the change in learning more
than any other observation that could be made. The “Why?”
question is an internally motivated curiosity question; the
“Will we have it on the test?” is a conformity question to
the system.

It is essential for a civil society to follow ordinances and
laws and conform to societal expectations. It is a necessary
part of the culture. However, in order for a DEMOCRATIC
society to flourish, the VALUES OF THE CULTURE must be where
its citizens take responsibility because they WANT to be
civil. This is in contrast to civility being imposed–as is
the case in many authoritarian countries around the world.

Although societal conformity is necessary, educators and
parents (really anyone who wants to influence another) would
do well to continue sharing the “Why.”

In schools, having young people understand the levels of
personal and social development–especially the differences
between levels C and D–would be a good starting point. See

6. Discipline without Stress

The following is from a post at

Original post:

I have read all the information on the website about
Discipline w/o Stress and have started using it in my
classroom. I just love the concept. I teach only one day a
week. It seems that the children willingly do A/B behaviour
to see what I’ll do. Some won’t acknowledge that they can
actually improve their behaviour to level C/D. They say its
very hard to do. Sometimes I feel bogged down, but being
stubborn I don’t want to give up. Sometimes they are really
great for an hour showing C/D behaviour, and then they just
break out. Am I doing something wrong or what?


Just because the children understand the 4 levels does NOT
mean they are always going to choose level C/D behavior.

Also, since you only see your students once a week, it will
take longer for you to see more of the results that you are
desiring. The important thing is for children to categorize
their behavior because then they are analyzing and
self-reflecting. That doesn’t necessarily mean they will
change their behavior, but it’s a first step.

Last year I had one Kinder boy who usually behaved on a B
level. When I would ask him what level he was on, he could
always correctly tell me what level. His behavior didn’t
change that much. Another student I had improved his
behavior quite a bit.

I also posted 4 mini pocket charts with the 4 levels and I
found pictures of examples of the different behaviors. For
example, one picture shows a young George Washington
chopping down a cherry tree. We classified that as level B
since he wasn’t supposed to do it. But another picture shows
his telling the truth about chopping it down. That picture
went on the level D pocket chart.

You can find lots of pictures at Google Images to use. As
your students exhibit different behaviors, you can write
them down and place them (with help of the class) in the
correct category. Don’t give up. This system works!


7. Testimonials/Research

Good evening Marv,

I was a very willing listener to your keynote and workshops
on your recent visit to Hamilton. My colleague has already
received her first newsletter. We were very interested to
read of your perceptions of New Zealand education and life
in general. It is always interesting and revealing to hear
how other people see us and to see the little things that
attract an outsider’s attention, such as your interest in
our road signs. I borrowed your quote about how arguing with
a child is like wrestling a pig: You both get dirty, but the
pig likes it. It went down a treat. We learned a lot! They
weren’t ripples you made in New Zealand; think upon it more
as a huge southern ocean swell!

Hilary DeZapata
New Zealand